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Kaimana Jerky Costco Food Safety Audit

With the help of: INNOVATE Hawaii


Kaimana Jerky is a Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, company that produces gourmet tuna jerky in various flavors using all-natural ingredients. Sheldon Cho founded Kaimana Jerky in 2014, as a way to brand his family’s locally famous marlin jerky company. Since that time, he and his family have expanded their product offerings and have grown their distribution channels throughout Hawaii.

Kaimana Jerky focuses on drying and flavoring local Hawaiian ahi tuna and marlin. The jerky is made with wild caught fish from the Pacific Ocean and seasoned with locally sourced ingredients. Kaimana Jerky offers seven distinct artisan flavor varieties that capture the true essence and tastes of Hawaii.

The Challenge

Kaimana Jerky has been a mainstay product in Costco locations across Hawaii. However, in 2016 Costco contacted Kaimana Jerky’s management and let them know that the company would need to successfully complete a third-party audit to meet the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements to stay in Costco locations.

Management knew that they could use assistance to learn more about what the third-party audit entailed and the steps they needed to take to successfully pass it.
It is evident that the Innovate Hawaii team really cares about the success of local businesses. The time and attention to detail they provided to help us pass the third-party audit was extremely beneficial and we are grateful for their assistance.
— Sheldon Cho, Owner

MEP's Role

Kaimana Jerky’s management reached out to the Innovate Hawaii team, part of the MEP National Network™, to help them prepare for the third-party audit required by Costco. 

The Innovate Hawaii team was able to provide a detailed food safety systems analysis to help the company document their current food manufacturing programs, processes, and procedures. The Innovate Hawaii team also worked with management on the flow of the facility and best practices for safety procedures. With this information, Kaimana Jerky’s management was able to address the areas that needed to be updated for the company to successfully pass the third-party audit and continue to be an approved supplier for Costco.
Created November 3, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021